Travel and tourism week: The secret's out

Visitor Bureau aims to spread Door County message farther

May 8, 2013
One of the most spectacular views of the bay of Green Bay is at Ellison Bay.
One of the most spectacular views of the bay of Green Bay is at Ellison Bay. / Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate
A rehearsal scene from 'Bing! The Cherry Musical' on American Folklore Theatre's open-air stage at Peninsula State Park. Celebrating the art of cherry pit spitting are, from left, Pamela Niespodziani as Maggie, Chase Stoeger as Pete, Raeleen McMillion as Ruby, Doug Mancheski as Chuck and Molly Rhode as Anna.
A typical Fall Fest crowd gathers for the annual parade in Sister Bay. / Photos by Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate
A festive Egg Harbor marina. / Photos by Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate
Cana Island lighthouse north of Baileys Harbor is accessible seven days week May through October.


A survey of potential visitors found that slightly more than half the Midwesterners who have never been to Door County don’t know anything about Door County.

That’s about to change.

During the annual National Travel and Tourism Week breakfast Tuesday at the Carrington Pub & Grill in Egg Harbor, the Door County Visitor Bureau (DCVB) unveiled the 30-second television ad that will run in Chicago and its northern suburbs this year.

“All we need to do is get them to try us on for size,” said Jack Moneypenny, president and CEO of the DCVB. “We say that every single day: Come up here and try us on for size, fall in love with us and buy a suit made out of Door County — because you’re going to love it, and you’re going to want to come back again and again and again.”

The Traveler Motivation Study conducted by D.K. Shifflet & Associates collected responses four times during 2012, one for each season, from 1,074 Door County visitors and 1,608 travelers who have never been to Door County. The samples included residents of Wisconsin outside Door County, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan.

“Fifty-two percent of them said they had never been to Door County because they don’t know anything about Door County,” Moneypenny said. “So when we sat down and started working on our plan, we knew we had to push our message out a little farther and start educating outside a little bit.”

He urged the approximately 200 people at the breakfast to go online and review the entire 78-page study, which is available at

Among the nuggets provided in a four-page summary distributed at the breakfast:

• Door County visitors are on average about 5 years older and less likely to have children in their households than travelers who have never visited the county.

• Door County has a loyal visitor base: Once they’ve experienced Door County, they are likely to return for more visits.

• Some 32 percent of non-visitors said they might take a trip to Door County in the next 12 months.

• A full 80 percent of visitors say they expect to return to Door County someday, and more than 50 percent expect to return in the next 12 months.

Statistics released by the state Department of Tourism on Friday indicated that direct visitor spending in Door County amounted to $289 million in 2012, a 6.6 percent increase from a year earlier. Tourism supported 2,948 jobs in the county and generated $62 million in total labor income.

Moneypenny shared a four-page “Power of Tourism” report that will be mailed to every household in Door County on Friday, inside the Peninsula Pulse in Northern Door and as a separate mailing to the rest of the county.

“We see our job as continually educating the residents of Door County on the value of tourism and the quality of life that it brings to them,” he said. “Because quite honestly if tourism was not here, the quality of life would be so diametrically opposed to what it is.”

The breakfast kicked off with County Administrator Maureen Murphy reading the County Board’s proclamation of May 4-12 as Travel and Tourism Week, coinciding with the national observance promoted by the U.S. Travel Association.

“I’ve got a confession to make to all of you,” Murphy said. “I was a tourist.”

She described how it all began with long weekends at the Inn at Cedar Crossing in Sturgeon Bay 25 years ago, which grew into weeklong visits to sites around the peninsula and eventually led to purchasing land and building a home. Murphy was spending weekends with her husband at their Door County home while working as Slinger village administrator before being hired by the county in October.

“So as you serve those tourists out there in this really heavy tourist season, remember, they’re all potential property taxpayers,” Murphy said to general laughter.

Christine Salmon reminded participants about the Certified Tourism Ambassador program, which educates volunteers about the county so they can help visitors enjoy their stay.

“If we are going to treat every single visitor in a way that they have a truly memorable, unbelievable time because of you, and if they come into contact with 50 of you on their weekend or their weeklong vacation, can you imagine what they’re going to say when they go back home and they talk to their co-workers and their family members and they talk about Door County?” Salmon said. “We are in this together.”

Salmon presented Wally Vartanian, front desk associate at Waterbury Inn in Ephraim, with the Certified Tourism Associate of the Year award, assisted by last year’s winner, Rachel Willems, executive director of the Ephraim Business Council.

Contact Warren Bluhm at or (920) 743-3321, Ext. 122.

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